The release of a Treasury report to a newspaper today confirms the former Howard Government knew Work Choices was stripping Australian workers of their rights and conditions, the Australian Council of Trade Unions said today.

“This Treasury report confirms what the majority of Australians suspected well before last November’s election – that the Howard Government knew Work Choices was robbing working Australians of their rights but pressed on regardless,” ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today.

“Former Minister Joe Hockey recently revealed on ABC TV’s Four Corners program that the Howard Govt knew Australians were worse off under Work Choices, and this Treasury document is yet more proof.

“Figures released earlier this year by the new Rudd Labor Govt showed the true impact of Work Choices in cutting the pay and conditions of hundreds of thousands of working Australians.

A study of AWA individual contracts examined by the Workplace Authority in February 2008 found that:

• 70% of workers lost their shift work loading,

• 68% lost annual leave loading,

• 65% lost their penalty rates,

• Almost nine out of ten workers (89%) on a Work Choices AWA lost at least one protected award condition, and 

• 56% lost six or more award conditions.

ACTU research also shows that the incomes of more than a million Australians dropped in real terms by up to $44 a week or more than $2,200 a year under Work Choices.

“This leaked Treasury report is another footnote on a dark period in Australian industrial relations history in which the Howard Government sought to deceive the Australian public over the true impact of its IR laws.
“It confirms that Australians were right to vote overwhelmingly at the election to reject AWAs and the Howard Government’s attack on workers’ rights and living standards,” said Ms Burrow.